TROLL OF THE MONTH: Vladimir Đukanović, Member of the Serbian Progressive Party and lawyer

The Balkan Troll of the Month is an individual, a group of individuals or a media outlet that spreads hate on the internet based on gender, ethnicity, religion, or other diversity categories. The Balkan Troll is selected based on hate speech incidents identified across the Western Balkans region.

June Troll is Vladimir Đukanović, Member of the Serbian Progressive Party and lawyer, who in reaction to the Roe vs. Wade overturn in the USA, spread highly sexist and hateful narratives towards women and feminists because of the topic of abortion.

Roe v. Wade was a landmark Supreme Court decision in 1973 which ruled that the US Constitution protected the liberty of women to choose to have an abortion. Its overturn means that the women’s right to choose to have an abortion is no longer constitutionally protected and falls under the legislation of each US state, which can lead to general restriction reproductive rights in more conservative states. As a reaction to these recent events in the USA, there has been an increasing number of individuals sharing their opinions and taking part in debates on the matter on various social media platforms.

One such individual is the lawyer and Member of the Serbian Progressive Party, Vladimir Đukanović, who recently shared a number of tweets commenting on abortion rights and on the recent US Supreme Court decision. One of these tweets read “Bravo for the decision! Feminists and all other atheists, take your uterus and cry”. This was followed by another tweet which displayed a picture of three cows with the caption “Feminists in disbelief due to the ban on abortion in the USA”. He accompanied this with another explanation where he stated that his intention was never to compare women to cows but rather feminists themselves; “I did not compare women, but aggressive feminists who otherwise in their manner insult the views of us believers. Yes, I consider them the worst evil that advocate the legalisation of murder. I tell you nicely, if you don’t like it, block me”.

If this is not bad enough, he furthermore, went on to express his attitude and bitterness towards, what he claims are, ‘insane feminists’. His tweet read: “I enjoy monstrous aggression and insulting insane feminists. The US Supreme Court killed them in a sense and their attempt to legalise murder as something normal has collapsed. The ideology of death that these frustrated people advocate, thank God, has been defeated. Evil is on its knees”.

Vladimir Đukanović, is an individual of political importance and well-known politician in Serbia. He has around 7, 076 followers on Twitter and a large reach and influence in the country. Such sexist, hateful and insulting narratives towards women  and those in support of abortion rights on social media, could risk spreading such ideas within society. Furthermore, the degrading and insulting language, and use of imagery towards feminists is extremely problematic. The labelling of certain women fighting for abortion rights and equality as ‘aggressive’ and ‘insane’ creates a negative image and rhetoric within society towards feminists and women worldwide. It also marginalises and creates hostility in society towards these groups of people who may feel personally attacked by such statements and narratives.

Political leaders and individuals with a large, influential platform, holding positions of power, should be held responsible for their actions. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. However, the spread of hateful, sexist and derogatory narratives towards women and feminists, including the use of downgrading comparisons to that of animals, is extremely problematic. These narratives and hate speech only uphold misogynistic and sexist views in society as well as fuelling hatred towards women and those fighting for abortion rights.

Abortion rights are and always have been a matter which is extremely debated within society. The recent events in the United States following the Roe vs. Wade overturn has further polarised this debate and exposed various stances on the matter. However, regardless of individual opinion, the fact remains: every individual should have the right of autonomy over their own body. Nobody should have the power or control to restrict and limit an individual’s self-autonomy and freedom. Every individual should have the liberty and prerogative to exercise their free will.